Porsche confirms new drivers for LMP1, GT

Earl Bamber will replace Mark Webber at the No. 2 Porsche in WEC in 2017. (Photo: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images)
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images

Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber will graduate to Porsche’s LMP1 program, with Andre Lotterer joining the German manufacturer in its heavily revised driver lineup for the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season, which was confirmed on Saturday at its “Night of Champions” awards dinner in Stuttgart.

Tandy and Bamber, who along with Nico Hulkenberg won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015 in a third Porsche 919 Hybrid, move into full-time LMP1 rides after focusing on Porsche’s GT racing activity this year, replacing two of the three vacant seats.

Three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer, meanwhile, is the final addition, with the ex-Audi ace joining Tandy and recently crowned World Champion Neel Jani in the No. 1 Porsche for next year.

Bamber replaces the newly retired Mark Webber in the No. 2 car alongside Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley.

The driver shakeup comes in the wake of both Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb having been dropped from the LMP1 lineup, just weeks after winning the Drivers’ World Championship alongside Jani.

Both Tandy and Bamber were front-running candidates to join the LMP1 squad full-time, when the performance of both Lieb and Dumas came under scrutiny through the summer months.

Lotterer, arguably Audi’s current standout driver, moves over from the now-defunct LMP1 program after seven years with the German manufacturer, having helped deliver numerous wins, as well as the 2012 WEC title.

As expected, Porsche will remain with a two-car program in the WEC and at Le Mans, with no indications of a third car for the French endurance classic.

Porsche's GT lineups were also confirmed, with Laurens Vanthoor and Dirk Werner both having been named as new factory drivers for its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program.

As first revealed by Sportscar365 last month, ex-Audi GT factory ace Vanthoor and BMW works driver Werner join the previously announced Sven Mueller as additions to Porsche’s lineup, largely due to the promotions of both Tandy and Bamber to Porsche’s LMP1 program.

Vanthoor, the newly crowned FIA GT World Champion, will join Kevin Estre in the No. 912 Porsche North America entry in the WeatherTech Championship, with Werner teaming with Patrick Pilet in the No. 911 car for the full season.

Fred Makowiecki (No. 911) and Richard Lietz (No. 912) will complete the lineup for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races in the new mid-engined Porsche 911 RSRs.

Lietz, Makowiecki and Michael Christensen, meanwhile, have been confirmed as three of the expected four full-season drivers that will make up the returning Manthey-run Porsche Motorsport team in the WEC GTE-Pro class.

Porsche has yet to name the remainder of its WEC lineup, but is expected to consist of some combination of Mueller, Wolf Henzler and Dumas, who returns to becoming a GT factory driver after a three-year stint in LMP1.

Both Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister, meanwhile, are expected to be focused in North American racing, with Long having been confirmed to return to Pirelli World Challenge with Wright Motorsports and Bergmeister poised to be back with Park Place Motorsports in the WeatherTech Championship.

The German manufacturer now boasts a 12-strong works GT driver lineup, not counting LMP1 refugee Lieb, who has also been retained by Porsche, but in a yet-to-be-defined customer racing role.